The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 348-365 (week 51 & 52)

December 30, 2012 at 11:51 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!

Well, we made it through the year, made some new friends along the way, and had some fun!  I’ve really enjoyed trying out new recipes, sharing them with you, and sharing the little ordinary goings-on of our family with you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the tidbits as well as the food, and found some cool new things to try!!  I know I’ve tried things I never thought I would, and found out I actually LIKE curry!

So here’s our final entry for this blog for this year.  I’ve got a BUNCH of recipes for you, some simple, some not-so-much, but all well worth the effort.  I hope to continue this food blog in 2013, but I don’t think I’m going to focus as much on doing something new every day like this on started out, I think I’m going to try new things every weekend and share those adventures.  Gives me more time to work on my two new blog ideas….

Here are my two new blog ideas for 2013, I’m going to give them a shot and see where they take me.  I’m going to start a new blog doing some product reviews, starting with some of the things I got for Christmas, and then I’m going to have a second blog about jewelry making, share some things I’ve tried, maybe try my hand at doing a tutorial or two on some basic techniques.  Could be fun!  Hope you’ll join me!!

Working names, please let me know what you think!:

Ramblings Meets Reviews!

Nirvana Bay Designs Presents:

So, on to the food….

Chicken Everglades

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (or however many you need to feed your crew)

Everglades original seasoning (green)

Fresh ground pepper

Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces.  Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, heat over medium heat, add in chicken.  Sprinkle liberally with Everglades seasoning and pepper, I think I use about 2 Tbsp for 2-3 chicken breasts.  More than that is way too salty, but less is sort of bland!  Cook chicken, stirring frequently, until done through.  Serve with sides of your choice!  I usually go for some steamed veggies and maybe some biscuits.

Pork Chops Everglades

4-5 boneless thick cut pork chops

Everglades original seasoning (green)

Fresh ground pepper

Trim any excess fat from the chops, and cut into small bite sized pieces.  Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray, heat over medium heat, add in pork.  Sprinkle liberally with Everglades seasoning and pepper, I think I use about 2 Tbsp for 4-5 chops.  More than that is way too salty, but less is sort of bland!  Cook pork, stirring frequently, until done through.  Serve with sides of your choice!  I went for some rice this time, and some steamed veggies.

Nachos

1 pound ground beef

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup taco seasoning mix

Tortilla chips

1 cup shredded taco blend cheese

1/2 cup salsa (I use mild)

Chopped black olives (optional)

Chopped green pepper (optional)

Brown ground beef in a large skillet, drain excess fat.  Add in water and taco seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.

Arrange tortilla chips on a plate, top with seasoned beef, shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like, everything except the salsa at this point!   Microwave about 1 minute, maybe just a little more or less depending on your microwave, just until cheese melts.  Top with salsa, sour cream, or ranch dressing and serve!

Cheddar Sausage Biscuits

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3 cups Bisquick

1 pound bulk pork sausage (I used mild, and wish I had used medium!)

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp dried Rosemary leaves

1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes

BBQ sauce or Ranch dressing or chili sauce, whatever you like for dipping!

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bottom and sides of jelly roll pan with olive oil cooking spray.

Stir together all ingredients, mix VERY well.  I had to get in there with my hands to get it mixed right.  Shape into 1 inch balls, a cookie scoop works really well for this, wish I had had one when I was doing this!  Place in pan, right up against each other, but don’t squish them together.

Bake 25 minutes or until brown and slightly crispy.  Remove from pan to paper towel lined platter.  Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Makes about 8 dozen balls.

Corn Pudding

1 can creamed corn

1 cup milk

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

Dash of salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat eggs, sugar and flour together.  Add corn, butter, salt and milk.  Pour into buttered (or in my case, butter flavor cooking sprayed) 13″ x 9″ dish.  Bake at 325 degrees approximately 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

NOTE: if you double this recipe, you will have to cook it about an extra 20-30 minutes for the center to set right.

Oatmeal Scotchies

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1 stick plus 6 tbsp butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups oats (Quick cooking or not, doesn’t really matter, but the consistency of the cookie IS different.  I prefer regular over quick oats)

1 cup butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, add in sugars and mix well.  Add in eggs and vanilla, mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt.  Slowly add to butter mixture, mix well.

Add in oats and chips, you will have to switch to a spoon rather than a mixer at this point, it gets really thick! (at least I do…  my little hand mixer won’t handle it…)

Dropped by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.

OR, spread into a buttered (or sprayed) 13″ x 9″ pan, bake 30 – 35 minutes, cool and cut into bars.

Bulgar Breakfast Squares

2 cups cooked Bulgar wheat (1 cup uncooked = 2 cups cooked)

2/3 cup milk (or fat free half and half!)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp melted butter

1 Tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup dried bananas

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1/2 cup dried cherries

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

First tip, put the dried fruit in with the Bulgar when you cook it, just add about 1/4 cup extra water, softens them up nicely.

Combine everything, spread into a greased (sprayed) 8″ x 8″ baking pan, cover with tin foil, bake 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before trying to cut, serve warm.

You can also prepare this in advance, cool completely, cut into squares and reheat in a microwave.

Snowballs

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1 cup butter, softened but not melted

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups ground pecans

2 cups sifted flour

1 box confectioners sugar

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Cream butter.  Add sugar, pecans and flour.  Mix well.  Dough will be VERY stiff.

Shape into tablespoon size balls, again a cookie scoop would have come in very handy here, but I didn’t have one yet.

Place on UNGREASED cookie sheet, bake 45 minutes at 300 degrees.

Remove from oven and immediately roll in confectioners sugar.  Set out to cool on waxed paper over newspaper (to protect your surface!).  Roll again in confectioners sugar when cooled.    Store in a sealed container.

Tollhouse Cookies

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2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

1 10 ounce package chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In one bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, cream butter, add sugars, vanilla and eggs, mix well.

Gradually add in flour mixture.

Gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoons (cookie scoop!) onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 9 – 11 minutes.

OR, do like I did and spread it all into a greased pizza pan, bake 20 – 25 minutes, cool in pan, cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.

Ham and Cheese Quiche

1 frozen pie crust

3 large eggs

1 cup half and half (fat free, of course)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup diced ham

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place pie crust in glass pie plate.  Prick bottom and sides, bake 10 minutes to set.  Remove from oven and cool.

Sprinkle ham and cheese in cooled crust.  Mix eggs, milk and spices in mixing bowl.  Pour over ham and cheese.  Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees, bake another 30 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven, or until puffy and lightly browned.  Cool about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Chicken and Pasta

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

Olive oil cooking spray

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 Tsp Italian seasoning blend

Salt and pepper to taste

Spaghetti sauce

Dreamfields Penne pasta, cooked to package directions

Grated Parmesan cheese

Spray skillet with cooking spray, heat over medium heat.  Add in chicken and spices, cover, stir frequently to cook through.  Drain off excess liquid.

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Add sauce and chicken to pasta, serve topped with a little Parmesan!

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Crockpot Chili

2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained

3 cans red kidney beans

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1 diced green pepper

2 Tbsp onion flakes

2 pkgs chili seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

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Top with a little shredded cheese, sour cream, whatever YOU like on your chili!!

So I think that’s enough for now…

Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 306-312 (week 45)

November 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Welcome back friends!  Hope you all had a glorious week!  It was certainly an interesting one for us.

Mike’s birthday was yesterday, Happy Birthday Baby!  Balloons, candy, ice cream cake, pizza, movies.  Nice evening!!

William got his first middle school report card, 7 A’s, 1 B, WAY TO GO William!

Work was work, James was James, no idea what’s going on with him, but he’s a teenager, I don’t think I’m SUPPOSED to know what’s going on any more.

Working on a new bracelet, here’s where I’m at as of today:

And of course, new nail design for the week:

So, kind of a quiet week, but that’s OK!  Oh, almost forgot, my office is putting together a cook book for charity, so I put in about 10 recipes.  Would have done more, but they set a limit…  That’s OK, now I know where to go when I’m ready to do mine in print!!

On to the food…

Monday

Free for all!

We had all that cool stuff left over from all that cooking I did last Sunday, so everyone got what they wanted, and I cleaned out the fridge.  Nice, easy Monday night!

Tuesday

Goulash (formerly “Hot Brown and Lumpy”)

1 pound ground beef

2 cups water

1 cup frozen peas

1 box Dream Fields penne pasta

6 Tbsp brown gravy mix

Prepare pasta to package directions, drain.

While cooking the pasta, brown the ground beef, drain.  Add in the water and gravy mix, bring to a boil.  Add in peas, boil 2 minutes, reduce heat, simmer about 10 minutes, just about the time it takes the pasta to cook.  Add in the drained pasta, mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste, and serve in a bowl!

I made some canned biscuits to go with dinner, it was a nice meal.

Wednesday

Five Guys burgers

Yeah, we had some money left over as we got closer to pay day, so we splurged just a little.

Thursday

Santa Fe Chicken

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any excess fat or skin, cut into small bite sized pieces

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

1 can Black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen green beans

1 Pkg Sante Fe flavor cooking cream

Cook chicken in a large skillet until no longer pink.  Add in cooking cream, black beans, peas and green beans.  Mix well, simmer on low while you cook your pasta to package directions.  Drain pasta, add in to skillet and mix again.  Serve!

Friday

Cheesecake Factory

Well, we’re big fans of The Big Bang Theory, so we decided that since we couldn’t get in to Red Robin in less than an hour, we would give this place a try.  Well, let me tell you, the food was good, but WAY over priced.  $11.95 for a burger and fries!  Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but not THAT good!  And I LOVE cheesecake, but not for $6.95 a SLICE!  The waiter was slow, even once we got seated, we were there for about an hour and a half, and I was seriously disappointed that he brought us the dessert menu then disappeared for 15 minutes so that we didn’t actually order dessert, we went somewhere else.  I would NOT recommend going unless you have that kind of cash to blow.  I guess we’re more the Five Guys kind of folks, and even that I think is overpriced, but at least I don’t have to wait an hour for it!

Saturday

Frozen pizza, Ice cream cake

Yeah, it was pay week, and I went grocery shopping so we had all kinds of food I could have made, but it seemed like a pizza kind of night, Mike’s birthday and all.  Let him pick the movies, had pizza and bread sticks, then we went and got an ice cream cake and balloons.

Sunday

Crock Pot Enchiladas

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (approx 1 lb each), trimmed of any leftover skin or fat

1/2 cup taco seasoning mix

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 jar chunky salsa, mild (or your preference)

2 cups shredded cheese, Mexican blend or chedda

Tortilla chips

Cook chicken breasts in water with taco seasoning on the stove, covered, for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until done through and falling apart when you try to take them out.  Shred chicken.

Mix soup, salsa and shredded chicken in a bowl, place about 1/4 of the mixture in the bottom of the crock pot.  Layer shredded chicken mixture, cheese, tortilla chips, until you have 3 to 4 layers.  Finish off with a layer of tortilla chips and cheese. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or until bubbly and cheese is melted well.  Serve!

And since I went shopping, including a side trip to the Oriental market and the fruit stand, I made a KILLER fruit salad for this week…

Pineapple

Dragon fruit

Pomegranate

Red grapes

Green grapes

Strawberries

And we’re off tomorrow, for Veteran’s day, so I think I’ll do a little cooking tomorrow with all the cool stuff I got this weekend.  I even got stuff to try my hand at Ratatouille!

So until next time, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 203

July 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm (Food) (, , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!!  I feel like I’m on a roll, two days in a row…

So, my last day as a temp, I’m officially an employee as of tomorrow morning!!!  Get paid tomorrow for last week, a partial check next week, and my first regular paycheck next week, too.  Ought to be interesting!

Still waiting for the electrician to come back and find the short in the phone system…  and the sprinkler folks to come and fix or replace the sprinkler controller.  That stupid lightning strike is still haunting us…

Anyway, Mike stayed home sick, again.  I feel kind of bad for him with the fatigue and everything, but I’m also worried about how much work he misses.  I hope it doesn’t come back to bite him, we can’t afford it!!

James is at work… and William helped fix dinner!

Tonight’s recipe is completely an original…

Chicken Bacon Nachos

3 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 pound bacon

Corn tortilla chips

Shredded cheese

Salsa

Cut bacon into small pieces and cook over medium heat until crispy.  Remove to plate with paper towels and set aside.

While bacon is cooking, trim excess skin and fat from chicken, and cut into small bite sized pieces.  Once bacon is done, add the chicken pieces into the bacon grease, and cook until cooked through.  Remove to plate with paper towels.

(I made the mistake of leaving the bacon in the pan and adding the chicken, and while it tasted good, the bacon wasn’t crispy any more…  learn from my mistake!)

Spread tortilla chips onto a plate until plate is covered.  Add some chicken and bacon.  Cover with shredded cheese.  Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Top with some salsa and serve!

We all really liked them!!  Have to remember this one, it was YUMMY!!!

That’s it for tonight, though…  doing my nails, so no more cooking for now.

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 106

April 17, 2012 at 2:24 am (Food) (, , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope your week is starting out well!!

Monday is supposed to be scout night, but William asked if we could take just this one week off, since his birthday is tomorrow, and I decided that he deserves it, he’s been an awesome kid recently.  And to be completely honest, my shoulder/neck is killing me, and I was looking for an excuse!

But, I had a productive day despite my pain in the neck! LOL!!  Four loads of laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, made some more new jewelry (maybe sitting hunched over the table working on jewelry is why my neck hurts?!),

and still managed to make a nice dinner.  I’ll admit it’s kind of a repeat, but I’m perfecting the recipe, and it was SO much better this time around!  And lots of photos, so you can follow along very easily:

Chicken Enchiladas

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 quarts water

1 packet chicken Flavor Boost by Swanson

1/2 cup Tone’s taco seasoning

1 1/2 cups salsa

2 cups salsa

1 x 4 cup package shredded cheese of choice (I used cheddar/monterey jack blend this time)

1 pkg soft flour tortillas, soft taco size (8 tortillas)

Place chicken, water, Flavor Boost and taco seasoning in crock pot, cook on LOW at least 8 hours.

Remove chicken from pot, shred and place in bowl.

Line baking pan with tin foil, spray foil with olive oil cooking spray.  Set aside.

Place 1 1/2 cups salsa in blender and LIQUIFY, add to chicken, mix well.

Set out tortillas, place 1/8th of chicken mixture on each one, top with about 1/8 cup shredded cheese, roll and place in pan.

Place 2 cups salsa in blender and LIQUIFY, pour over rolled tortillas in pan, spread with spatula so that they are all covered.  Top with all remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is well melted.  Serve!  You can serve with sour cream if you have it, or drizzle over a little ranch dressing, that’s really yummy!

 

These go really well with a nice fresh salad, and you can follow with Tres Leche cake if you happen to have time to make one.  We just happen to have leftovers, YUM!!!

Hope you enjoy this one, I know we did!  Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 88

March 30, 2012 at 1:21 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again my friends, and welcome back!!  So glad you could join me again.

Busy day today!  Doctor’s appointment in the morning, quick trip to Walmart for a few odds and ends, shuttling kids around as usual, don’t feel like I actually accomplished much other than making dinner, and that took WAY longer than I expected, but it was SO worth it!

Homemade Taco Pizza

Dough

3/4 cup luke warm water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 Tsp sugar

1/2 Tsp salt

2 Tsp active dry yeast

Set bread machine to DOUGH.

Add water and oil to pan.

Add flour, sugar and salt to pan.  Tap pan to level ingredients, pushing a little into the corners.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients and add yeast.  Lock pan into bread machine.

Make sure the machine is set for DOUGH, and start the machine.  My machine ran for 1 hour 20 minutes on this setting, which I was NOT expecting, so dinner was REALLY late!

When done, remove pan from machine, turn dough out onto floured surface, knead about 1 minute, then allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Roll dough out to fit a 12 or 14 inch pizza pan.  Place dough on a greased pizza pan that has been sprinkled with corn meal.  Press dough into pan forming an edge.  Let dough rise in warm, dry place for 20-25 minutes.  (I actually used a pizza stone rather than a pan, and I didn’t grease it, but I did use the cornmeal!)

Top with a few tablespoons of salsa, spread VERY thin, and…

Taco Beef

1 pound ground beef

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup taco seasoning mix

Brown ground beef, drain.  Mix in water and seasoning, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.  Spread on pizza crust.

Top with about 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese.

Bake 25 minutes at 425 degrees.  Cut into 8 slices and serve!  Will be VERY hot!

We also had salad and fruit with this.  Nice meal!

Until tomorrow friends, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 35

February 5, 2012 at 11:39 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , )

Hello again, and welcome back!

Tonight, we had a one pot (almost) wonder meal that really was very good!  I was hunting around for recipes earlier, and I stumbled across one for “crock pot enchiladas”, but I didn’t have or particularly LIKE everything that went into it, so I sort of made up my own version, and with the exception of my picky eater, William, everyone liked it!  And he actually ate most of it, just picked out the chunks of peppers from the salsa.  Have to remember to run that through a blender before I use it next time!!

So, here is my version of crock pot enchiladas:

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (approx 1 lb each), trimmed of any leftover skin or fat

1/2 cup taco seasoning mix

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 jar chunky salsa, mild (or your preference)

1/4 cup enchilada sauce, mild (or yous preference)

2 cups shredded cheese, Mexican blend or cheddar

Tortilla chips

Cook chicken breasts in water with taco seasoning on the stove, covered, for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until done through and falling apart when you try to take them out.  Shred chicken.

Mix soups, enchilada sauce and salsa in a bowl, place about 1/4 of the mixture in the bottom of the crock pot.  Layer shredded chicken, cheese, tortillas (try to cover as much as you can of what’s in that pot with chips, gives it more texture…  I used about 15-20 chips in a layer), sauce until out of sauce (3-4 layers). Top with any remaining chicken, tortillas and cheese. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or until bubbly and cheese is melted well.  Serve!

Until tomorrow, friends, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 14

January 16, 2012 at 12:50 am (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello friends, and welcome back!

Well, fish tacos…  what can I say…  EWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

We aren’t big fish eaters, and I’m trying to find ways to get more fish into our diet, without eating frozen fish fillets or take out fried fish, but this wasn’t it.  The fish tasted OK, everything else that went into the tacos tasted OK, but together, EWWW!

Just in case I got it wrong, or you actually LIKE fish to begin with, here’s the recipe:

Fish Tacos

Fish fillets, fresh or thawed frozen, approximately 12 ounces, rinsed and patted dry (I used tilapia, since it doesn’t usually taste “fishy”)

2 Tbsp olive oil mixed with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Shredded lettuce

Diced tomato

Shredded cheese of choice

Sour cream, or ranch dressing, or salsa, or all of the above

Taco shells, or flour tortillas, your choice

Brush fish fillets with oil/spice mixture, grill on George Foreman grill literally 5 minutes, the fish will be cooked perfectly!  Remove from grill, flake into bite sized pieces.

Place a couple tablespoons of fish, shredded lettuce, cheese, and sauce of choice either in a taco shell or on a flour tortilla and serve.

So, here’s the story of our dinner tonight…

William gets his first, sans lettuce of course, sits down, take a couple small, tentative bites, and says “well, it’s not great, but it’s not inedible.” LOL!

Then my husband, Mike, gets his, takes a couple of bites, and gives me a funny look.  I’m thinking, OK, here’s the one person in the house who actually LIKES fish to begin with, and he’s not enthused…  I’m in trouble!

So, I get mine together, take a couple bites, look at both of them, and say “you’re right, it’s not inedible, and that’s the best thing I can say!”

So, we put everything away, and I made a run to Arby’s!  This is officially our first failure in this grand experiment.  Fish tacos just aren’t for us!  I’m thinking I’m going to make something like tuna salad with the leftover fish, maybe throw in a little Old Bay to give it some flavor.  And now I know why I’ve always battered and fried my fish, I have to cover that taste somehow!

Tomorrow, everyone is off, so I’m going to make mini chicken pot pie type things, with phyllo dough, since I’ll have lots of time and help around the house.  Maybe I’ll do some more of those blueberry wontons from last night, those went over well!  And I think we’re going to go try to see the manatees during the day.  I’ll try to get a couple photos!

Until then, eat well, love well, live well my friends!

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